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Cha to perform at figure skating competition in Japan

Posted April. 10, 2023 07:52,   

Updated April. 10, 2023 07:52


“I feel very nervous because I am holding the baseball for the first time in my life.”

This is what Cha Jun-hwan (22), ‘figure skating prince,’ told Lee Min-ho (22), his former classmate from Whimoon High School, just before he pitched the first ball at the season-opening game between the Samsung Lions and the LG Twins at the Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul Sunday. Lee volunteered to coach Cha for the first pitch.

As a matter of fact, Cha only came to known Lee was his high school classmate very recently. Cha engaged in training mostly in Toronto, Canada from 2015 when he became a member of the national team as an 8th grader at Whimoon Middle School to 2020, when he moved back to Seoul for training due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “Since Cha would rarely show up at school, he was nicknamed ‘Legendary Pokémon,’” Lee said.

Instead of going to school, Cha made it a rule to wake up at 6 am, take three training sessions in the ice rink and field training sessions, and receive physical therapy every day. “As I continued to live according to the same schedule every day, time went fast,” Cha told The Dong-A Ilbo at a café in Seoul’s Gangnam on Saturday. “As I exercised hard, I gained the strength that empowered me to keep confidence in myself even when I make an unexpected mistake while performing.”

Figure skaters like Cha can have some leisurely time after the conclusion of the World Figure Skating Championships. This year’s championships ended on March 25, but Cha continues training six days a week except Sunday even these days. He is scheduled to participate in the ‘ISU Figure Skating World Team Trophy,’ which will kick off on Thursday in Tokyo Japan. The event is an international competition wherein two each of men’s and women’s single skaters and a group each of pair and ice dance skaters will take part.

Cha won a silver medal at this year’s ISU World Figure Skating Championship to become the first Korean male to take the winner’s stand at the event. When a single figure skater from a certain country, just as Cha did this year, wins the runner-up or the grand prize alone in a competition at the World Championship, ISU increases births granted to his or her national team for the same competition to three in the next year. Thanks to Cha, two of his younger colleagues in men’s single are thus set to participate in next year’s World Championship.

Bo-Mi Im bom@donga.com